Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed Philppe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Martin Skrtel were left out from the start of the Europa League win at Rubin Kazan due to fitness concerns. Coutinho is suffering from a hamstring injury, while Lallana and the ever-present Skrtel, who both made cameo appearances in the second half, were initially omitted following a recent run of appearances.
Jordon Ibe scored his first Reds goal to maintain Klopp's unbeaten run since succeeding Brendan Rodgers to put his side on the brink of securing qualification for the last 32 of Europe's second-tier club competition. The trio of Coutinho, Lallana and Skrtel were notable absentees from a strong starting 11 named for the game in Kazan but Klopp has downplayed any injury concerns.
"It would have been great if I could have brought Phil Coutinho on, but I didn't want to risk him because he had a little hamstring issue – only a little one and everyone told me he is fit," he said following the 1-0, according to Liverpool's official website. "But I am not a believer in things like this and it was a heavy pitch to play on, very intensive, so I didn't want to take this risk.
"If we could have brought him on with Adam Lallana, it would have been better for our game because it was very intensive for my side. In the end, we changed some things in the game to create more chances and I am really satisfied with how we did."
"I only make the teams to win the next game, not to give a player rest if he doesn't need it," the 48-year-old, who has won his last three games as Liverpool boss, added. "We had Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho with some problems so they were on the bench. I didn't want to risk it and wanted to win without them. This squad is big enough and strong enough. We did not fly here for a friendly game. We are four weeks together and have more experience together.
"The same thing with Martin Skrtel – he played nearly all the game against Bournemouth after coming on for Kolo Toure. We gave him a rest today because Dejan Lovren is a strong player. It's not because they're rested, only because the other players are fresh and the possibility to win is big. That is why we came here – we didn't fly five hours for a friendly!"
Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace represent the next challenge for Klopp, who is unbeaten in his first six matches in charge of Liverpool amid an impressive start from the German boss. The club are eighth in the Premier League, four points adrift of the top four after 11 league games.